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“I’ve Got to Be Free”: Bernie Worrell Orchestra, April 13 at RIBCO
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2013-04-10 18:59:09

Bernie Worrell. Photo by Brian Diescher.Plenty of musicians talk a good game about loving many types of music. Bernie Worrell lives it.

“I play it all,” he said in a recent phone interview. “I’ll play a Jewish chant. A Gregorian chant. A chant in the middle of a rock piece. I’ll go to India. I’ll go to Africa. All in one piece.”

A brief sketch of his career should suffice as an illustration. He was a piano prodigy who wrote a concerto at eight and two years later performed with the Washington Symphony Orchestra. He studied at Julliard and the New England Conservatory of Music. He was music director and bandleader for soul singer Maxine Brown before becoming a central figure in Parliament-Funkadelic, with whom he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He recorded and toured with the Talking Heads and has worked with experimental artists including Bill Laswell and the super-group Colonel Claypool’s Bucket of Bernie Brains. In 2011, he released an album of jazz standards.

As the Chicago Tribune’s Greg Kot wrote in a review of his 1993 album Blacktronic Science: “Bernie Worrell explores the possibilities of 21st Century funk with blithe disregard for boundaries. Bach, hip-hop, organ-trio jazz – it’s one big canvas for this virtuoso ... .”

“I get bored quick,” Worrell said. “I’ve got to be free, man. ... I will be free.”


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